William Joseph Communications

Celebrating Canada's 150th Birthday

Oh Canada! As we gear up to celebrate the sesquicentennial of our home and native land, marketers revel in Canadiana as they vie for advertising supremacy. This year, we’ve seen creative campaigns that fall into three categories: those that pull on the heart-strings with feel-good vibes, bandwagon jumpers waving a maple leaf for no rhyme or reason, and those unexpected campaigns that succeed with their originality.

As advertisers and brands try to articulate what it means to be Canadian in 2017, one thing is certain – Canadians are proud of the values our country champions: diversity, community and equality. An emphasis on values over cultural history in Canada 150 advertising opens the door to more brands, including those non-native companies that want a piece of the tourtière.  What’s important when dabbling in patriotism is forming an authentic, emotional connection. Instead of merely relying on assumed Canadian iconography, it’s important for brands to tell an authentic story and embody the values they’re pushing. The task herein, then, lies in how effectively and creatively brands position their identity within the Canadian landscape.

There’s no denying that Canada is having a moment; our cultural capital has skyrocketed over the past few years thanks to the likes of our celebrity exports (Ryan Gosling, the Biebs and Drake, to name a few), our photogenic Prime Minister and our reputation for being inclusive, welcoming and kind. With so much cultural relevance to draw on, brands have had to determine which angle they’ll take when crafting Canada 150 campaigns. Whether it’s a nod to our heritage, a tribute to our current social street cred or a focus on the future, Canada is a hot commodity. Better yet, the official Canada 150 logo is free to use, even on items for sale, (as long as companies apply for a license from the Department of Canadian Heritage).

Here’s a look at how some of Canada’s biggest brands are celebrating, and marketing our 150th birthday.

Loblaws
To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, Loblaws created a heart-warming video that is an ode to unity, diversity and community.  Running just under 3 minutes, this video spot marks a clear departure from the usual ads we’ve come to expect from the grocery giant and excels in storytelling, while providing a coy commentary on Canada’s cultural qualities that have helped define our nation.

Loblaws held a contest under the theme of eating together, and has used social media to ask Canadians to talk about their own culinary influences and how they are inspired by the diversity of cultural backgrounds.

Hudson’s Bay Co.
The Bay is launched a 58-piece collection of souvenirs and apparel in all 90 of its stores across the country and online, including Canada-themed keychains, mugs, iPhone cases, and t-shirts. The retailer’s Canada 150 campaign focuses on raising funds for the Great Trail project, which will connect 24,000 kilometres of trails across the country into one route by the end of this year. Ten per cent of the products’ sales will be donated to the project, and two products – a $20 mini-canoe paddle keepsake and a $5 paddle keychain – will direct 50% of sales to fundraising for the trail’s completion and future upkeep.

Roots
The Canadian clothier mecca created a Canada 150 campaign that includes a Canada Day countdown, capsule collection, special edition bags honouring our diverse landscapes, plus travel tips for Canadians and fun facts about our nation. The campaign lives on its own independent landing page on the Roots website and is an informative and it is fun.

RBC
RBC launched its #Make150Count campaign before the new year and is giving more than 3,000 young Canadians $150 for community projects. The #Make150Count project asks the recipients to share their stories, which will be used as content for social, digital, TV and print ads running until July.

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